New initiative: the Digital Revolution and Government #gov2 #gov2au

One of my great passions is the digital revolution and how it is affecting society. A key area of our life that the digital revolution is changing is government and governance. Revolutionary thinkers like Clay Shirky and others have even posited the notion of a kind of digital direct democracy.

Exploring these ideas and finding actionable insights is important for Australia and its people, and today Craig Thomler and I have launched a  Government 2.0 Futures project with a new site about Australia’s Government 2.0 future:

“… to provide public sector policy-makers, practitioners and academics with a collection of views on Australia’s Government 2.0 future.

Through we are asking Australian and international Gov 2.0 experts, commentators and practitioners – and the Australian community – to reflect and contribute their views on three questions:

  • What does Government 2.0 mean for Australia’s governance?
  • How will Government 2.0 change the culture and practice of Australia’s public servants and governments?
  • What will Australia’s Government 2.0 future look like?

We hope to release a selection of these contributions under Creative Commons next year as a free ebook. We also hope to release a paper version to sell in bookstores and online. Any profits from the sale of this book will go to support Government 2.0 initiatives from not-for-profit organisations in Australia.

We invite you to be part of Australia’s Government 2.0 future by contributing your viewsideas and suggestions via the website.”

Source: eGov AU

The future of shopping is social

These are some thoughts that I presented at the AMP Social Media Cafe in Sydney on 11 November 2010, the slides and references follow below.

The future of shopping is social. But that is nothing new – shopping has always been social. The difference is that now we are seeing social interaction on a hyperconnected scale and the emergence of new competitors. It is still shopping, but social shopping is on steroids.

Firstly I want to give you a sense of the broader shopping landscape in the digital age.

There is a growing body of empirical research on retail effectiveness and the statistics are quite scary. As Sorenson notes “The shopper comes to the store to buy things. The retailer creates stores to sell things. Manufacturers create products to sell. Yet most of the shopper’s time in the store is spent not buying.”  And he notes further that “a single item in a store might attract only 300 seconds [of attention] from all shoppers in an entire week, about five minutes [in total]”.

This means that not only are shopping centres fighting to get and maintain traffic, but also that the traffic is not necessarily being well used by the retailers to sell products effectively. And this leaves each of them vulnerable to competition.

Yet the work we have been doing in the shopping business over the years can summarised quite nicely by this diagram by Robert Kozimets. And the model works equally well for retailers or for shopping malls. We have been building spaces for brands that cluster around either the transactional (think supermarkets) or the iconic (think of one of the new high fashion shopping centres).

But all of this is happening in a broader context. The economy is changing around us. We are moving into what I have come to call the engagement economy. But there are so many competitors how for a share of that attention ( as well as for a share of wallet) that it is important to be able to grab attention and then to drive ongoing engagement.

We’ve had social shopping for a long time – since commerce began. But the nature of competitors is changing. Before it was the other mall or the retailer down the road that we had to worry about. Now competitors include farmers’ markets in grocery and fresh food; virtual goods like digital video and music from iTunes; large online aggregators like Amazon (who perform many of the functions of a department store and are often cheaper); and new entrants such as online shopping clubs (of which more later).

This competitive landscape has evolved very fast – just look at this timeline from Sean Carton to see how fast. Two and a half thousand years ago we were writing on clay tablets and in the last decade the digital revolution has changed our lives. Many of us cannot imagine a world without the internet anymore.

Also media has been changed by this digital revolution too. Marketing and advertising are being reborn in this new digital world; while many newspapers around the globe cling tenuously to existence. This diagram by David Armano illustrates this phenomenon very well.  He nicely illustrates the fact that we are moving from lower engagement traditional media to higher engagement online social media.  After all not many people check their newspaper first thing in the morning, but some recent research indicated that many people check Facebook (or Twitter) before they go to the loo or brush their teeth in the morning.

And the tools of the digital revolution – web 2.0, social media, social networking and mobile devices – have changed the way people interact with each other and with brands.

Facebook is probably the best example of this change (although there are other similar services such as Twitter that are gaining ground). Facebook is important because it is changing what real people are doing with real time and attention every day all around the world.

But now hold that thought for a little while as we consider some other trends.

Let’s have a brief look at the evolution of shopping in the digital age.

There are a number of trends here:

  • Rise of mobile devices
  • Word of mouth via social networks
  • Social shopping
  • Collaborative shopping
  • Geo-social services (location based)
  • Putting geo-social into perspective

Social and collaborative shopping is reshaping the power relations between consumers and sellers.  New intermediaries are arising, ones who aggregate consumer demand via shopping clubs.  The fight for better value by consumers is shifting onto new territory.  And this shift will begin to manifest as changes in share of wallet for traditional retail channels.

The growing role of mobile devices also means that the shopping dynamic is changing.  Consumers can share realtime information and collaborate while they are on the move.  In the past we had to connect online via fixed PCs,but now the devices are always on and in our pockets and handbags.

Sites like Facebook are picking up on this trend with their adoption of Places – a geo-social application that enables users to share their physical location with friends (there are other contenders in the geo-social space too). And now the interesting thing is that we are seeing the merging of online and offline social activities with shopping and the integration of micropayments.  For example Facebook’s relatively recent addition of Buxter to enable peer to peer payments between friends.

It is very early days yet. We do not know where these trends are heading in particular. However, it is clear that geo-social applications have the potential to close the loop between online social networks and real world activity, especially when these are connected by online micropayment capabilities.

What we do know is that consumers are:

  • Going mobile
  • Sharing information via social networks
  • Collaborating via social networks
  • Shopping for virtual goods
  • Starting to use augmented reality

Future of shopping is social

Sorensen, Herb, Inside the mind of the shopper: the science of retailing,  Safari Tech Books (ISBN: 0131366130), 2009
Lowrey, Tina, Brick & Mortar Shopping in the 21st Century (ISBN: 9781410618252), Psychology Press, 2007
Report: Consumer Shopping Experiences, Preferences, and Behaviors, Oct 2010, Art Technology Group, Inc. ,

Serious games for business and education #GlobalSCRM

I’ve never been a big online game player (the third world bandwidth here in Australia has been enough to discourage many like me). But, having observed the development of online games and the gamer communities since the early days of the internet, I can see clearly that this is a significant phenomenon. One need only to look at the size of the global games market. Here I am drawing a distinction between online games and online gaming (the latter is the online equivalent of going to the casino).

The session that I attended recently on The Future of Games: enterprises, education, social + more really got me thinking about how we can use games and games-like technology for better results in the workplace and education.

I learned new words like ‘gamification‘ and discovered that the power harnessed by computer games can also be channeled to achieve better health results or to drive changes in consumer and employee behaviour.

As a non-gamer I had never really stopped to think about this before. Although Chris Penn often writes about what he learns about business, the world and human behaviour from World of Warcraft (aka WoW) I had not generalised this thinking to the broader category of games and beyond to business and government applications.

But the mechanic of games touches on important human urges and needs in ways that other kinds of technology interactions do not. The popularity of games is not surprising when you consider, and not just hard core gamers, but games played by ordinary people (such as Farmville). One of the drivers of Facebook’s popularity has been the number of games available through its interface. My partner often plays chess on Facebook, while many other friends play word games and sudoku on a daily basis.

Consider also the millions of people – young and old – who play games on various devices everyday. No longer is the player tied to a PC or television, now the devices for playing games have gone mobile with access via mobile phones and portable games devices.

Thus with sites like Facebook we are seeing a broad majority of people being trained to use online games and to collaborate together using online tools. This new tendency has hardly been touched on in the workplace.

For many years we have struggled to get messages across at work or for public service – about important things like safety, diversity, legal compliance, health – with limited success. Admittedly our training methods were relatively primitive. Although there is a large body of work around adult education and online learning it has been a challenge to adopt these on a grand scale for workplace education. But games offer us a new channel to get these messages out more effectively.

The other part of the equation is that our customers have also been educated to use games and associated technology. This opens up new possibilities for our customer relationships. This is not to say that every brand needs to go out and develop a game (although that is probably what we can expect to see next from voracious marketers). Instead brands and products that need to drive behavioural change can leverage the repetitive nature of game play to build up that change over time. For instance, products like medications that require high levels of compliance and regularity of schedule to work properly could be tied to a game mechanic to assist consumers in achieving the full benefits of the treatment regime.

Games are not only a serious business for pleasure. They also offer significant promise for reshaping business and consumer interactions. Watch this space to grow over the next few years and expect to see various experiments of varying success as we evolve new ways of using games in mainstream business and marketing.

The Future of Games – Global Social CRM #GlobalSCRM

Yesterday I attended a fascinating session hosted by the Bay Area Executives Meetup on the topic of the The Future of Games: enterprises, education, social + more.

The session was conducted via CISCO Public TelePresence Suites, WebEx, Livestream, Twitter – with attendees from all around the world (Santa Clara, CA, San Francisco, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo). The panelists all have experience in social gaming in general and social gaming for education. Some of the questions we considered were:

  • How do we use the energy of gaming to support organizational activities and broader missions?
  • What are the other possible futures for gaming?

I suspect that many of the ideas covered during this session are going to ferment in my brain and lead to a number of follow up blog posts.  Kudos to Tatyana Kanzaveli for coordinating the session.

The panelists were:

  • Lyle Fong – CEO & Co-Founder – Lithium Technologies
  • Dr. Keith Devlin – Co-founder and Executive Director of the university’s H-STAR institute, a co-founder of the StanfordMedia X research network, and a Senior Researcher at CSLI.
  • Douglas Goldstein – a eFuturist and CEO of iConecto, Inc.
  • Mathias Crawford – Research Manager at the Institute for the Future

The session was moderated most excellently by Terri Griffith, Professor of Management, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University.

Emmy Gengler
Patrick Searle
Carlos Miranda Levy
Carl Hewitt
Terry Mandel
Terri Ducay
Doug McDavid
Daniel Holden
IdaRose Sylvester
Matt Perez
Sanjeev Sisodiya
Patrick Nicolas
Robin Stavisky
Yuko Ihara
Haixia Yu
Kate Carruthers
Jay T Dautcher
Anca Mosoiu
Max Skibinsky
Keith Devlin
Lyle Fong
Terri Griffith
Tatyana Kanzaveli
Ian McGee
Jared Waxman
Kristi Miller
Tim Stephenson

Girl Develop IT Sydney launches successfully #ozgdi

Girl Develop IT Sydney kicked off well last night with thirty eight students, led by the indomitable Pamela Fox and a number of teaching assistants.

Women from all sorts of jobs and backgrounds came along to grapple with the basics of web development – with the youngest still in high school.

The first session covered the basics of HTML and history of the web. Next sessions are:

Class 2: HTML Advanced Tags – Wednesday, Oct. 20
Class 3: CSS Selectors & Properties – Monday, Oct. 25th
Class 4: CSS Layout – Wednesday, October 27th
Class 5: Final Demos – Monday, November 1st

Google’s offices in Sydney are a great venue – kudos to them for supporting this initiative.

Making digital marketing work

Much of the digital marketing I see is a bit tragic.  Tragic for the businesses  who are investing hard won income into campaigns that might not deliver a return on investment.

Some of it seems like self-indulgent twaddle done by creative types for their own amusement.  Other times it seems that the marketing manager has signed off on a campaign that they like and suits their needs rather than think for two minutes about the consumer.

Often it is difficult to work out who it is aimed at or what the message actually is. Then I start to question how valid it is for some businesses to create their own social networks or even their own Facebook pages for various brands or products.

It seems that we sometimes forget the basics when we fall in love with new technology. Also the new technology associated with digital marketing means that there is a lot of data available.

Yet many organisations are still grappling with how to filter, interpret and manage the firehose of data gushing their way from these digital marketing activities.

Just because we can do certain things with technology is not necessarily a reason to do them. The fundamentals of marketing still apply!

  • Who is the target consumer? Think about marketing to a single person or series of people, rather than assuming a huge old-fashioned style audience as a blob.
  • Where can I find these kinds of people?
  • Why is my product relevant to them?
  • How can I explain it to them effectively?
  • How can we translate knowledge into action by consumers?
  • How we can we measure effectiveness of our digital marketing activities?

The four foundations for success in digital marketing activities are:

  1. Start with understanding the customer – effective research is the cornerstone.
  2. Set an overall strategy and allow it to be the guide.
  3. Chunk the strategy up into campaign elements for tactical execution.
  4. Define the metrics at the start and then track them relentlessly – use them to work through the four steps to recalibrate activity (the day of set and forget marketing is over).

The other critical element is to realise is that consumers are changing.  There ways and places of consuming media are shifting.  It is no longer safe to assume that traditional media solutions will continue to work as they always have in the past.  For instance we are seeing a continued decline in newspaper circulation.

Digital marketing is not just about buying banner ads and setting up a Facebook page.  It is about creating real value for customers, shareholders and other stakeholders.

Australian courts decide “No Copyright in Newspaper Headlines”

It is interesting to read through the notes on this recent decision by the Federal Court of Australia. It’s worth reading the entire post on Mallesons’ site or even the judgement here on AUSTLII.

It looks like the traditional news media are losing ground on their ambit claims to own everything 😉

As Mallesons so neatly summarise it:

“The Federal Court of Australia today decided that copyright did not subsist in newspaper headlines. See Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd v. Reed International Books Australia Pty Ltd [2010] FCA 984. This is the first time anywhere in the world that a common law court has fully considered and decided this issue.”


“Businesses that abstract and summarise the works of others will be able to continue to use the title or headline of the original source when citing the original source.”

via No Copyright in Newspaper Headlines – 7 September 2010.

Filesharing: copyright has always been a bit broken but we never noticed

I was chatting to someone at a party on Saturday night about copyright. The gentleman I was chatting with was strongly in favour of strict enforcement of copyright. He was advocating fining people who share copyright material online.

It got me thinking. Once you consider the problem in offline terms it seems that many of the problems of copyright content have been with us since the days of Gutenberg. And that problem has always been related to re-distribution (or ‘file sharing’) of copyright material.

Before the advent of modern printing copyright was unnecessary. Even in the early days of the printing press copyright did not really matter since it was so difficult to produce a book and to then distribute that book widely.

The reason for this was technological. In that the constraints in distributing printed matter meant that wide distribution was hard to do. For example, just look how big and heavy this Gutenberg Bible is to move around. You would not like to be down at the local market trying to move a lot of this model.

But with the Protestant Reformation there was a drive to put the bible into the hands of all Christians, and to ensure that they could also read. This led to a focus on improving the technology of the new device (a.k.a. the book). Very quickly with this strong support from Church (and often State as well) the book began to resemble its modern petite dimensions. With this change in technology – i.e. smaller lighter books and better printing machinery – distribution suddenly became much easier and the problem of people sharing copyright content started to rear its ugly head.

And, at the same time, the other problem facing copyright content popped up its head – file sharing (a.k.a. sharing books with other people who had not paid for them). Thus even since the Protestant Reformation file sharing has been a problem.

Once the book became a portable device the issue of file sharing became a problem. The second hand bookshop became the place where file sharing took place. People also did it at home or work – bringing in their books to pass along to another person.

As a society we came to accept this as part of the deal. So what is the big problem when we have the same behaviour in the digital space? I suspect it is a problem of scale. Suddenly I can purchase one copy of some content and then share it with many people around the world, who can in turn share it with many others.

But we are not going to solve this problem by telling people not to do it. It is too easy to do. Also legal alternatives are not as easy as doing the wrong thing. iTunes is probably the easiest of all the mechanisms for acquiring digital content legally. Many others are just too hard. Recently I tried to do the right thing and purchase some digital music only to be told by every supplier that I can’t have it because I live in Australia and it has not been released to us yet.

These kind of distribution problems make it to easy for consumers to do the wrong thing. Until we have ubiquitous solutions that are as low impact and as easy to use as iTunes; with material freely available for purchase in every region it will be hard to stop digital sharing.

And let’s not even get into a discussion about the inequity of the situation where I can buy a book and then give it to a friend but cannot even share my one digital item across all my machines so I can consume it where I want. After all I can consume the content of a book where ever I choose. There are still some technology issues to be solved here too for digital.

Digital citizens need real world knowledge too

It was fascinating to be at the inaugural Digital Citizens event in Sydney last week – the topic was: Private Parts: Personality and Disclosure – Finding a Balance in the Digital Space.

There was a great line up on the panel with visiting US lawyer and social media specialist Adrian Dayton (Social Media for Lawyers), Sam North (Ogilvy PR), Damian Damjanovski (BMF), and Renai LeMay (Delimiter), all wrangled expertly by the moderator Bronwen Clune (Strategeist).

It was a very thought provoking session with the panel and audience discussion. And the big takeway for me is that social media and its practitioners need to accept that we live within a particular social and legal context.

No matter how much we ‘social media’ types decry how poorly the law is setup to deal with what we do everyday, that is the situation we must deal with. The law moves much more slowly than changes in technology, and, upon consideration, maybe that’s not such a bad thing?

For example, Damian Damjanovski argued: “A lot of people out there use it as a personal communications method. There are lots of people with no more than 70 followers . When did we get to the point that this is suddenly publishing and should be treated as such?”

The fact is ordinary people are doing something that was once privileged – publishing. We are publishing content in many places now in the same ways that publishers (who have lawyers vetting much of their content) have for years.

Now that everywoman and everyman is a publisher we need to understand the rights and obligations that come with publication. We are no longer having a chat about something over dinner or at the pub with a bunch of mates. We are posting content (pretty much) for perpetuity and complaining when there are legal ramifications associated with that act.

It all made me think that perhaps a good topic for another Digital Citizens session would be about the legal issues associated with the act of publication on the web? Since, while Adrian Dayton was great, it would have been handy to have Australian lawyer on the panel.

A brief write-up of the event is also available on mUmBRELLA

Kindling a Revolution

Just travelled back from Melbourne and sat next to an extremely spry gentleman of 71 years who spent the entire trip reading on his Kindle.

He told me how much he loved this new way of reading. That it can hold 1500 books and he only recharges it infrequently, less than once a month.

As a frequent traveller he enjoys the convenience of his great collection of books in a compact package and at a reasonable price per book. And he’s found that it’s good to read both indoors and outdoors.

I felt quite old-fashioned with a thick book on my lap next to this new-fangled gadget.

As this elderly gentleman said:

“the book industry is in real trouble, it’s not like we’ll stop reading but this will kill the book industry as we know it”

Thus we see again a change in the nature of our media of production is revolutionising existing industries.

We have already seen the changes sweep the music industry. Shifting us from physical objects that we bought and took home to virtual objects that we store on our mobile phones.

Now we are about to see the same kind of revolution sweep through our books.

Even this elderly gentlemen can see this. It will be interesting to see what futile rearguard actions the book industry puts up in resistance to this tide of change.